Kawhi Leonard was honored with the first-ever Kobe Bryant MVP Award.
The Los Angeles Clippers star, 28, helped lead Group LeBron James to victory towards Group Giannis Antetokounmpo throughout Sunday’s 2020 NBA All-Star Recreation, which capped off the league’s All-Star weekend.
“Means quite a bit to me, phrases can’t even clarify,” Leonard mentioned of receiving the highest honor renamed after Bryant. “I wish to thank Kobe for the whole lot he’d accomplished for me, all of the lengthy talks and exercises. Thanks, this one is for him.”
The athlete later added, “In direction of in a while in my profession, I began to speak to him quite a bit. Bought some recommendation from him … Kobe’s identify is on , it’s the primary one. Means quite a bit to me.”
Leonard additionally spoke with reporters after the sport, sharing his admiration for Bryant.
“It’s very particular. Like I mentioned, I had a relationship with him. Phrases can’t clarify how blissful I’m for it. Capable of put that trophy in my room, in my trophy room, and simply have the ability to see Kobe’s identify on there, it simply means quite a bit to me. He’s an enormous inspiration in my life. He did quite a bit for me,” he mentioned.
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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver introduced on Saturday that the coveted award would completely be renamed for the late NBA legend, who died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and 7 different folks in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.
“Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this international celebration of our recreation,” Silver mentioned in a press launch. “He all the time relished the chance to compete with the perfect of the perfect and carry out on the highest degree for hundreds of thousands of followers around the globe.”
The winner of the Kobe Bryant MVP was decided by NBA followers — who represented 25 % of the vote — in addition to a media panel, which represented the remaining 75 %.
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In honor of Bryant, the format of the sport was additionally reworked.
As a substitute of the standard time restrict, when scores are tallied up within the fourth quarter, a goal rating shall be set, which every crew has to achieve in an effort to win. In a nod to the quantity Bryant wore for the latter half of his profession, 24 factors shall be added to the profitable rating in an effort to decide the goal.
Moreover, all members of Group LeBron wore a No. 2 on their jerseys, in reminiscence of Gianna, whereas Group Giannis gamers wore No. 24.
To pay tribute to the opposite victims, each groups will put on patches with 9 stars to signify all who had been misplaced within the crash, together with John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.